Unpredictable March

Mar 02, 2020


The old folk saying, “In like a lamb, out like a lion” is often used to describe the tumultuous month of March. With spring officially arriving on the spring or vernal equinox on Thursday, March19, many are anxiously awaiting warmer weather. The sage words of wisdom indicate that if the month comes in like a lion, meaning wintry weather, it will go out like a lamb, implying more favorable, spring-type temperatures. But the month has been known to flip that saying with warmer days early and then ending in more frigid fashion.

It’s not uncommon to see flurries flying on particularly blustery days, and sometimes we even get snow accumulation during this time of year. This winter has seemed unseasonably mild for the most part, but the risk isn’t over just yet.

I remember the Blizzard of 1993 as a perfect example. That year most of the state was blanketed with record-breaking snowfall as a freak winter storm wreaked havoc on residents, causing power outages that
lasted for days and particularly impacting many farmers who struggled to get their cows milked and carry
on day-to-day farm chores. Many had chicken houses, hay barns, and other farm buildings collapse from
the weight of the heavy snow accumulation and strong winds. The dire circumstances led to significant losses in the agriculture sector and beyond. Some figures estimate the blizzard, dubbed the ”Storm of the
Century” by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, caused more than $5.5 billion in damages, making it the costliest winter weather event to date according to the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information.

The blizzard began on March 12 and over two days dumped 16 inches of snow on East Tennessee. Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains registered a staggering 69 inches of snowfall. Weather records attribute the freak event to a cyclonic storm that formed over the Gulf of Mexico and cut a wide swath of destruction through the country traveling up through the Appalachians into the Northeast and on into Canada. More than 300 fatalities were attributed to the storm.

Fortunately, the long-range forecast for March 2020 looks mild. The experts’ opinions were reinforced by another example of folklore on Saturday, Feb. 2, when the famous prognosticator groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, signaled an early spring when he failed to see his shadow.

Whether this weather prediction is accurate or not remains to be seen. I’m keeping myfingers crossed.
 

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